The following is adapted from Life Profitability.
Entrepreneurs around the world have been chasing a ghost for the past several decades; an apparition that business-minded people refer to as the “work/life balance.” So far, nobody has been able to trap this supernatural phenomenon for one reason—it doesn’t actually exist.
Attempting to establish work-life boundaries is a flawed approach because it suggests that you must divide yourself into two separate entities—the businessperson and the human being with relationships, social activities, and necessary downtime. Those of you who have attempted to capture this dualistic vision realize that it’s a non-solution.
Most business leaders struggle mightily to disconnect from work. You never stop thinking about it, whether it’s out of fear of losing ground or from an obsession about gaining more. That freedom of just living life eludes you again and again, because your entrepreneurial journey is omnipresent.
Today’s technological advances make this struggle even harder. Work is now in our pockets; we feel the weight of it there. It pulls us back into our role as a businessperson with every text, notification, and even the occasional old-school phone call.
I know how difficult—perhaps impossible—it is to disconnect the human from the businessperson, because I’ve lived it and I’ve suffered the consequences.
Early in my entrepreneurial journey, I felt I had to be in the office first to lead by example. And I had to leave last, for the same reason. Then, as life became thornier due to all the sacrifices and mounting collateral damage, those twelve-hour days became an escape from the rest of my life.
But, of course, I was not productive during all that work time. People working sixty- or eighty-hour weeks aren’t productive. I think the most current research and science shows that not even Superman can do that amount of proper, efficient, productive knowledge work for that amount of time.
The ratio of efficiency and productivity per hour experiences the law of diminishing returns, which meant that I could’ve better spent this time elsewhere, even if it just meant taking some time to rejuvenate my energy and bringing a fresh mind to the same work challenges the next day. I could have gone for a run or spent time with my family, but I didn’t even consider those activities or non-activities as options.
My evenings served as a cutoff point, where I could seesaw back to the life side of my supposed “work-life balance.” But who was I bringing home?
Even if I could have disconnected my work brain, I had already left most of my energy and ability to focus at work. I could only feed my life the leftovers, sometimes mere crumbs of myself. In this way, work-life balance just means work first, life later in another guise, practiced on a daily scale.
When we try to make living and working equal and mutually exclusive, we make them enemies of each other, locked in a constant struggle. So, if the work/balance is so flawed, what is the solution?
You shouldn’t become trapped in a two-dimensional construct of either work to live or live to work. Instead, think more three-dimensionally. As entrepreneurs, work is a significant part or your life, but there are many other important nodes to consider.
These are just a few of the many possibilities for additional nodes in your life. Some people value volunteerism, athletics, and much more. You must decide where your life energy ought to flow, how much of it and when, moving fluidly throughout these various nodes, of which your business is just one. Life itself, however, is the field underlying everything.
By replacing the ghostly non-solution of a work/life balance with a more holistic and realistic model, you gain a deeper level of experience; you engage in multiple opportunities to make the most of your limited time on this Earth. With the embrace of each additional node, you gain an enriching, fulfilling, and satisfying profitability in life.
It’s time to capture the reality of your entrepreneurial journey. You are a whole self with many complex and interesting nodes, all of which should be explored and enjoyed. Now, go recognize the holistic nature of you, stop chasing something like a work/life balance that doesn’t exist, and live a profitable life.
For more advice on replacing your work/life balance, you can find Life Profitability on Amazon.